Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer has weighed in on the late collision between Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly that put both drivers in the wall with just two laps to go of a chaotic 2023 Australian Grand Prix.
Gasly was running fifth when Kevin Magnussen brought out the red flag on Lap 54, but the Frenchman lost places at the restart when he ran wide at Turn 1 before rejoining the track in front of his teammate.
Ocon nudged alongside Gasly on the outside but as the gap closed, the pair came together, bringing what had been a positive race to a sad end.
“I mean, look, it’s a shame that that they came together,” Szafnauer told the media after the 2023 Australian GP. “As far as trying to play one or the other, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.
“I think the right thing to do is learn from it. But you know, there’s so much chaos there and you got to make quick decisions.
“If you look at the onboard and the replay, Tsunoda gets through and Esteban tries to follow him.
“You don’t know where Pierre’s gonna go. Pierre doesn’t know who’s there. So he’s just trying to get on the racing line.
“So it’s not like he’s looking in the mirror seeing somebody and saying, ‘Well, I’m gonna block them’.
“He’s looking the other way and gets on the racing line thinking no one’s there.”
Szafnauer: Guys behind should have lifted
Gasly was visibly dejected in the aftermath after turning in one of the performances of the day to mix it with the top five and keep Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso in his sights.
All his hard work was undone at the restart, but Szafnauer absolved his new recruit of blame, adding that a crash was hard to avoid in the melee as drivers scrapped for points.
“So if you look at it, what happens is, there’s cars, so Pierre rejoins and can’t accelerate with grass on his on his rear tyres,” Szafnauer said.
“So the acceleration isn’t as much as the acceleration of those behind him, and he’s got one car that goes past on the right, another one that’s trying to go past on the right, and another one that’s going past that on the left.
“So whatever you do, you’re gonna hit somebody. And, you know, when they’re trying to overtake you, if the guys behind lift and allow you to accelerate, you have no issues. But unfortunately, they don’t lift.”